Author Kate Lansing’s Killer Chardonnay is the first book in the Colorado Wine Mystery series, the start to a charming cozy mystery series that features amateur sleuth and new wine shop owner Parker Valentine. It has been Parker’s dream to open her own wine shop one day and when her beloved aunt passes away and leaves Parker with a sizeable inheritance, it seems like the right time to chase her dream. With opening night planned and all the local VIPs invited to attend, Parker is ready to launch Vino Valentine. On opening night, Parker gets the surprise of her life when local celebrity and renowned food and wine critic Gaskel Brown takes a seat at the bar and orders a flight of Parker’s signature wines. Parker knows Gaskel’s reviews can set the course for the success or failure of Vino Valentine based on his opinion.
Parker isn’t having much luck winning over Gaskel with her wine selection. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself and she is convinced a bad review is just around the corner. He focuses on one of the wines that she is the proudest of – her signature chardonnay – and by the look on his face he is less than impressed. Abruptly, Gaskel gets up and beelines for the bathroom, and in her desperation, Parker “accidentally” sees the notebook of his initial thoughts. She is taken aback when she learns his initial impression is not positive. In a daze from reading his words, Parker realizes that Gaskel has not returned to finish his glass. She knocks on the door of the bathroom to check on him and when there is no answer, she discovers Gaskel dead in the bathroom of Vino Valentine.
Authorities are convinced that Gaskel has been poisoned and the poison was lurking in Parker’s chardonnay. To complicate things, Parker admits that she snooped in his notebook and he was about to give her establishment a less than stellar review, which doesn’t endear her to the investigating officer.
Word spreads quickly that it was Parker’s wine that killed him and she is desperate to save her business and lift the blame from Vino Valentine. She, along with her group of friends, take matters into their own hands and conduct their own amateur investigation. Their investigation takes an even darker turn when another guest from the opening night festivities dies under mysterious circumstances. In her investigation, Parker discovers that Gaskel’s writings have left many people destitute and broke after his scathing reviews caused their businesses to fail. Could the culprit be a ruined business owner seeking revenge? If so, how did the poison end up in Parker’s chardonnay? Readers will be on the edge of their seats trying to get to the bottom of the case.
Over the last few years the amount of cozy mysteries published has grown by leaps and bounds and there seems to be a theme or niche for nearly everyone, no matter your interest. Killer Chardonnay stands out in a large field of new cozy mystery launches. The characters are very engaging and the mystery will keep you guessing – especially how the poison got into the chardonnay. Kate Lansing has four books (so far) in the Colorado Wine Mystery series with the most recent being published in the spring of 2023.
2. A Pairing To Die For
3. Mulled to Death
4. Til Death do Us Port
The long anticipated movie Julie and Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, opens today and whatever the reviews, it’s sure to be filled with beautiful food. Based on the book Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, it follows the cooking adventures of a young woman who, in an attempt to bring some focus to her life, decides to make every recipe in Julia Child’s iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking – in one year and all in her tiny kitchen.
This isn’t the first time food has been the centerpiece of a film. Take a look at these entries for more mouthwatering fun:
Big Night – An Italian restaurant on the brink of closing pulls out all the stops in one last attempt to keep the kitchen running.
Babette’s Feast – An unexpected windfall allows Babette to create a once-in-a-lifetime banquet for her longtime benefactors, a pious religious group that deny earthly pleasure.
Chocolat – When a mysterious single mother moves into a small French village and opens a chocolate shop, magic and controversy soon follow.
Sideways – Two best friends spend a week touring the California wine country, discovering passion, exploring their failures and searching for the perfect wine.
Like Water for Chocolate – In this romantic fantasy a couple is denied the chance to marry. To be near her, the young man marries her sister and she expresses her passion for him through her cooking.
Ready for an escape this winter? How about a little literary trip to a champagne vineyard in France? Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? And yes, I realize it still gets cold there, but you have to admit, the idea of it is pretty romantic.
In House of Daughters by Sarah-Kate Lynch, the story revolves around Clementine, the daughter and rightful heir to the House of Peine, a vineyard that has been in the family for generations. However, after her father dies, Clementine soon discovers that she must share her inheritance with a half-sister she’s only met once and with another she didn’t even know existed! Needless to say, all is not happy in the Peine household. The sisters struggle not only with each other but with trying to keep the vineyard afloat financially. Secrets, scandals and long lost loves all keep this story bubbly and upbeat, but robust enough to savor long into the night. Share a toast to sisterhood and celebrate this read with your own bottle of champagne. C’est la vie!
Ever wonder which wine to have with a meal? Ever debate the pairing of different beers with specific foods? Ever argue with your SO about which is better, beer or wine? He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione and Marnie Old will not only educate and entertain you, it’ll provide you with fresh issues to debate.
Written by two acknowledged experts in their field, this book starts with an overview of each beverage, the basics of how each is produced, a discussion of varieties and styles and how to taste and evaluate each one. The heart of the book discusses pairing wine and beer with different foods such as cheese, vegetables, sandwiches, pizza, fish, pasta, chicken and desserts.
The final section is the fun part – bringing the debate home. Calagione and Old describe how to have a wine versus beer party, including giving you ideas on how to set up voting, sample menus and wine/beer pairings, and recipes.
Smart but never stuffy, this lavishly illustrated book is sure to encourage lots of friendly debate – and might even have you believing in the value of the other beverage, no matter what side you’re on.